Returning to online learning means a return to video lessons and whatever platform you school has decided to use.
While most of us are now au fait with teaching in this way, there are still safeguarding and safety issues that need to be considered at all times – especially for teachers now working with new cohorts or students who have moved school since the last lockdown.
Below are a series of key questions that all school staff should be asking before returning to video lessons – whether delivered live or pre-recorded.
Online learning: Safeguarding issues for video teaching
1. Consent forms
Have all students/parents signed your school's acceptable use policy and are they aware of how to use the programmes safely?
We could have a whole new group of children in front of us who are new to this system, so some basic explaining may be needed.
Do not presume that they know or will remember.
Do check what you have on show when your camera is on. Are you happy with what pupils can see? Is there anything that could possibly be offensive?
Do look at your school code of conduct because there will be clear guidelines about safer working practices.
3. Professional attire
Follow your school policy on what you should be wearing. You probably don’t need your lanyard on, but otherwise it’s best to retain a professional demeanour, and that includes your attire.
4. Appropriate content
Check that what you are going to share is appropriate – for example, if you are asking pupils to watch a YouTube clip, have you checked it all beforehand? Or if you are flipping screens to show them a PowerPoint you have prepared, will it suddenly flip to your personal emails? Be aware of this before it's too late.
5. Have other staff involved
Invite – or say you may invite – other staff along to live lessons. This acts a bit like an open door. The member of staff may not actually attend but you and pupils know that this is a possibility.
This protects you from a safeguarding point of view and can help with behaviour. If you are having a one-to-one conversation, then it should be recorded, as well as another member of staff being invited along.
Students may struggle with this if they are talking about a challenging or personal topic, so choosing who you invite will be key.
6. Recording and storing
If you are recording then where will you be storing the footage? It should not be on your personal drive, and there should be a clear reason why you are storing it.
Do all students know why you record it? This could be something that you state at the start of the lesson.
There is also the option sometimes for all people who attended to access the recording at a later date. Do you have consent from all the pupils for this? It’s worth checking with the member of staff who is in charge of GDPR.
7. Tracking pupil engagement
Some students will be joining in from their kitchens with Mum and Dad in the background. Others will be in their bedroom, the only quiet spot in the house.
Some will not put their cameras on (for various reasons that could range from lack of engagement to concern about their appearance or how their house looks).
All of these situations could lead to a pastoral or safeguarding concern, so don’t ignore a lack of non-engagement.
8. When can you use video tools?
Check your school policy on when these systems of communication can be organised. Is your school OK with the fact that you may want to use if after the normal school day for a chat with one of your tutor group?
9. Do you know the referral procedures?
Make sure you know how to do a safeguarding referral remotely. Check policies and, if in doubt, speak to the relevant member of the safeguarding team or ask your line manager or head of year for guidance if you're not sure who that is.
Don’t leave it until you suddenly feel you have an urgent situation developing.
Ceri Stokes is assistant head (DSL) at Kimbolton School in Cambridgeshire. She tweets @CeriStokes